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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  April 3, 2011 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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hi. i'm jane carroll. i got a business makeover. that's coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc.
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hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. so you have the connections. have you the creativity and the drive but your business is still struggling to stay afloat. what do you do? you call in the experts. we have a lot of fun with the piece we got to show you. we learned so much from it ourselves, the owner of a flower and coffee shop needed some help. you are about to see part one of our special small business makeover. we help her get her business headed in the right direction. ♪
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>> meet jane carroll. a pew years ago this talented and hard-working entrepreneur hit all. but now jane's business is in trouble. what happened? >> i had no, like, business plan. i had no idea what the hell i was doing. i knew i was creative. i knew i could make something out of nothing. that i was good at. >> jane's managed to keep her business afloat. she is struggling to keep her head above water. but she isn't alone. we have been secretly watching her for the last three days to see where she is going wrong. now it is time to bring in the rescue team for a small business makeover. >> my name is mike. i'm the author of "the toilet paper entrepreneur." >> you caught me totally off guard. >> to understand jane's problems we have to take a look at her past. the owner of a floral business, a mention in "oprah" magazine
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catapulted her fwhis the big league. celebrity clients like celine dion and michael j. fox and angela bass set 1% of businesses in the world get on her o list. the first that called was hairy bali. she was up for the oscar for "monster's ball." she wanted it for everybody in the movie. this is nice. i can do this order and have the weekend zblof jane's life turned into a roller coaster of career highs and personal lows. her business expanded to event planning and interior design. but as her business grew, she was having a hard time keeping up with demand. >> piece just started falling off. it was getting more and more difficult to manage. i was feeling extremely overwhelmed. and i was feeling extremely defeated at times. >> when the economy started sputtering in 2008, customers cut back on luxuries like fresh flowers and event planning.
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jane had to find another way to bring in cash. so she opened a cozy coffee house in pearl river, new york. called jane on main. as way to downsize and simplify her business. >> i always wanted my coffee house because i always wanted to be part of a community. i thought wow, it would be great to have a coffee house and do our flowers out of. >> it while the coffee house is a step in the right direction, mike and his team found a number of things jane could fix. including reconnecting with her celebrity contacts having a professional touch to her website and fixing her finances. but mike wasn't finished there. >> this wall right here is more of a wall of shame than it is a wall of fame. you should make this a very proud display. your customers are coming in scheer they don't know that you served celebrities. i didn't know. it took me a long time to get it out of you. we are going to work on first impressions. it costs you nothing to do and you can fix this wall by next
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week when i come back. >> all right. >> next, jane needs to remind her customers that she runs a floral business. >> amazing floral products. we need customers to know that and to remember it. this is where your opportunity is. give them something special that when they leave goes with them. maybe it is a plower that comes with your cup of coffee, special stir ir. something that leaves a long lasting impression so when they are not here you are still thinking of you and coming back and buying flowers. follow me. >> okay. >> of course, the toilet paper entrepreneur couldn't resist the stop in the bathroom. >> the last stop on the tour is right here. which soft ten first spot when you get a cup of coffee. this is a great opportunity, as crazy as it is, to be in the bathroom to make a lasting impression. captive audience. a display, something to leaf through, people can learn more about the business. all right. have you three things you need to do. first, fix that celebrity wall
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over there. make it a proud moment so people know you are in the floral business. second thing, leave behinds. it is easy to make. leave a long lasting impression. third thing is the bathroom. clean it up and make the floral business very common. i have surprises for you. i have three people coming in here to volunteer their time. remake your website. second thing, i have a person out of california and has all the celebrity connections and help you rekindle that. i have a friend dave that will come here to fix your finances. once and for all. we will take care of them. all right. >> thanks. >> so how will the experts help her in jane -- turn jane's business rinds. you will need to stick around to find out. one of jane's biggest problems with her business was a website that wasn't dynamic and wasn't attracting customers. your website really is like a storefront. you want your online customers to click, look around and eventually buy something. designing a user-friendly site
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requires a lot of thought and planning. i talked about common website design mistakes with the founder and ceo of webomax which provides online marketing services. so many people put money into designing their website and put it out there and want to try new things. then it turns out to be not that great. you can see it. it is easy to see how many people get to your site and click off right away. >> it is a big deal. >> this will be very helpful to see what you should not do and you brought examples for us. first you say avoid excessive flash. people get excited about flashes. i remember when it came out and everyone wanted it on their site. why don't you do it? >> what happen was flash and usage of ipads it is not compatible. you find a lot of people that use an ipad or different applications, they are not even able to see your website because it is in flash. also, with the changes that google has implemented within the google instant with the results popping up as you are typing them in, you are
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penalized. it may look great, it doesn't -- >> nobody can get there. you are going to fall down lower. >> absolutely. flash nowaday, again, while there are some level of acceptance if it loads slow and excessive kit hurt your rankings. >> okay. let's move to the next one, pet peeve of mine. remove outdated content. move it somewhere so it is not right up there on the front. >> one of the biggest things we often tell our customers is when you are looking at your website and people say how do i get it to be more interactive and get people to engage with us, one of the biggest things we say is make your website to be almost like a living entity. look at other sites, get a lot of traffic, it is because there's constantly updated information on there. when someone would come in and interested in buying something and see that you haven't updated your site or blog since 2007, i may think that company is out business may not buy them or call them. it seems like a common area to fix. it is not. >> i see this on blogs. my feeling is if you are not going to update it take it down.
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move it somewhere people can't see it. let's move to the next one. avoid confusing navigation. this example, again, clearly very confusing. lots of pictures and -- just have a design team take a look at that. >> one of the biggest things, introduction is websites where people -- store fronts. nowadays when they are looking for things. if you go there and you can't find your way around and you are confused with just how to click through it, people click off. they go on the next site. you want to make sure that the navigation is one of the most simple portions of your website, people find what they are looking for and buy it. >> you also have a certain much. lot of sites don't have search. then you can't find things. then the last one, this -- i see on more and more actually respectable sites which is interesting. you are saying remove auto pop-ups. everyone seems to be using auto pop-ups. >> it is true. people are using what pops up with an advertisement before it takes to you the page you want to be to. the problem is i think people
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are just -- they are disgusted with it and clicking back off of it.if you can get people to your site juan them to actually engage in your website and look at them. you want them to buy. >> i'm assuming that advertisers are paying for this. paying more for it because it is working, getting clicks to it. >> i think a lot of it is more so about the traffic. and when companies have traffic and trying to find have a fiji ways they can get the visibility, things like this, they are -- come at a good rate because you have a captive audience. i can tell you i think what happens is over time people start to become resist ten to it and click back and the branding doesn't work as well. >> so you also need to think -- as a -- someone that runs the website is the increased revenue i'm getting from this ad worth maybe people not coming to my site anymore? >> yeah. it has been proven when you -- add certain things like this, the balance rate increases dramatically. >> meaning people -- >> people come in and bounce right back off. >> this is such great
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information. thank you for bringing those examples. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> business travel can be a challenge but the right side of tools can help you alleviate the stress. here are five handy travel gadgets courtesy of budget travel. sick much standing around the airport? check out the walking bag. a line of suitcases with a handy retractable seat. if you can't leave home without your ipad, check out a blue teeth keyboard that doubles as a protective case. for the business owner who never wants to be out of touch no matter where they are, the earthsmateart earthmate. if you shoot video for your company's homepage, kodak's play sport video camera is a durable hand-held model that can shoot up to ten hours of hd footage. and if you are looking for a stylish option for protecting your devices, build offers a range of laptop tote bags and
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cases. how did our panel of experts help jane? when we come back, we will tell you exactly what she needed to do to help her organization, branding, and her bathroom. i'm sam chernin, owner of sammy's fish box. i opened the first sammy's back in 1966. my employees are like family, and i want people that work for me to feel that they're sharing in my success. we purchase as much as we can on the american express open gold card so we can accumulate as many points as possible. i pass on these points to my employees to go on trips with their families. when my employees are happy, my customers are happy. how can the gold card help serve your business? booming is taking care of your business by taking care of your employees.
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earlier we introduced you to jane carroll, small business owner that needed our help. when we visited her coffee house and flower shop we saw firsthand easy fix tows spruce up her business. now it is time to check back in with sxwran see how she is doing and how our rescue team is helping get her business team back on track. >> a week had gone by. the weather hope sflin dicktive of what's going on in there. she did her homework and bringing in experts, too. let's see how she is doing. first. >> first stop, jane's celebrity wall. >> your wall of shame turned into a wall of fame. i love you positioned it in the main dining area. coming in, i heard a couple, overheard a couple talking about your oprah feature. it is already working. >> next up, the leach behind. >> you told me to create a
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takeaway that would reflect what i do. so people remember their experience here. i thought what better way than a little espresso cup with fresh flowers in them. >> i think this is genius. you get a-plus for your homework. you put in all the elements your business. fresh coffee and flesh flowers. extremely well done. >> thank you. >> let's go to the restroom. >> to the toilet. >> last stop, the bathroom. >> so this room has radically improved. captive audience. tell me about this. >> this is one of the products we sell online. a root basket. one of our popular selling items. the size, i think, works in here and it will dry really well. >> really well done. a-plus. >> thank you. >> with jane's homework assignment turned in, it was time to meet the members of the rescue team. first, denise, ceo of s-3. a branding and marketing agency in new jersey. her assignment -- clearly defining jane's business.
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>> sometimes they come in and i don't know what the hell they want. they don't know we sell a cup of coffee. hello, it is right there on the window. >> denies and the team came up with two concepts to help marine brand the website and image. >> the first logo option that i did, we call vintage. we added fresh coffee, food, flowers because we thought that really tied in what your floral past is and present. that's where this sprang from. >> i love that. that's great. >> it matches. >> serendipity completes. that's how you know it is a given. >> that's a start. >> concept two, we thought -- let's have a very crafted logo that catches the uniqueness of flowers shop. >> i like that, too. >> and coffee. steam coming out of this base base of the flower. art deco. >> any questions? >> i always wanted on to have like a fresh contemporary way of doing flowers and designs.
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parties. and -- so i like this logo because it kind of meshes the two. it is contemporary but still gets the point across. >> all right. >> we have a winning logo. >> the next step looking at the website redesign. >> for your website, we took the same live area and so you kind of have a headline image. headline image and everything together. people that wander through as they are visiting you online. we thought -- well represented you online. >> david is the second member of jane's rescue team. a cpa with over 20 years of experience, he has been assigned the task of taking a deeper look at jane's financial situation. >> what really concerned me when we spoke was you have an internet business and you are able to track all of your expenditures and sales that way. >> right. >> you also do cash business. but the scary thing to me is
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that your cash sales and cash purchases aren't really making it into your accounting system. you are missing a piece of the picture. >> this is where i keep some information you will find interesting. >> so this is day by day. you have recorded -- >> broken down. >> your sales. >> right. >> purchases. oh, good. you have your receipts attached. >> i do. i have my receipts. >> david suggests purchasing a point of sale cash register that talks to her quick book accounting system. the next tip, making sure jane pays herself a salary. >> make a point of carving out a piece of your revenue to take care of you. say okay we will set aside this much, $500 a week or $300 a week, whatever makes sense, for your personal budget. >> the last member of the rescue team is sarah. with a vast hollywood network at
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her disposal sarah's job is to help jane rekindle her celebrity connections. >> i have a few tips for you. first one is i just recently got my own products to la toya jackson who, you know is one of the stars on the current "celebrity apprentice show." i have a good relationship with her manager and they said they would love to hear from you. >> nice. >> and get flowers to her. yes. so -- that's one. >> that's great. >> the second one is another friend of mine who owns a company called the shift company here in los angeles. and they are a talent management and production company. they have celebrities like jeff bridges who was nominated for an oscar. and i'm going to connect you with them. they are always looking for a new florist to, you know, get flowers to their celebrity clientele. >> we came back the following week to see a brand-new sign, revamped website, and a much happier jane. but that wasn't all. denise's team launched a new
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social media campaign for the store on facebook and twitter. >> in the last few weeks, an amazing changes occurred here. i know it is going to be an overwhelming process first thing, the financials. think of profit first. every time a deposit comes in, stoeg a little bit of money way for you. i love the social media tip. great way to get involved with the marketing. the third and final tip is celebrity connections. oprah is still buying from you. we should use that as taunt. >> sounds good. it has been a great experience. i think the place looks great. i'm on the right track. >> and you did a really good job. it is not easy. and i am super impressed with with a you have done. >> thank you. >> really proud. ♪ ♪ sweet jane >> what other things could jane have done to get back on track? you saw mike, the toilet paper entrepreneur in the piece. he's also the founder of a
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company that partners with small business owners to make the if niche industry leaders. and michael goldberg, managing partner with the bridge investment fund of intercapital group. great to see both of you. did a fantastic job. >> had a blast. >> and you your team did a great, great your team did a great, great job. >> thank you. >> what struck me when i watch that is, the one thing that stands out is i see this in so many of the small businesses we go into, where you said where are your finances? she opened that drawer and there's just a stack of receipts. >> cash is the blood of a company, yet so many businesses don't want to pay attention to that. when we were talking about accounting, she was getting nervous. you could see her shaking because she didn't want to talk in. when david came in, the accountant, he gave her a tip -- look at every deposit that comes in and immediately take a percentage for yourself. then run the business off the bank account like normally, how much do i have now, how much can i spend. but immediately take a percentage for yourself. pay yourself first. >> right.
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if you can't live -- >> then you're done. >> exactly. so, she was lucky, right? she got mike and his whole team there. if you're a small business owner and you don't have this rescue team come in, how can you take a step back and look to see what you can improve? >> well, i think one of the things at the end of the day, mike was an adviser and brought in an advisory board. i think it seemed to me, looking at what jane was doing, she lacked having experienced, folks give her advice along the way. i'm a venture capitalist and when we invest, we're looking at finances, helping do all these things. if you're a small business owner, you've likely taken venture capital money, taken money from friends and family, but i think getting the outside help, things like mike did, look in your community who knows about accounting or finance? it might be a family member or a friend, you might have to pay somebody, but those things are critical for a small business owner. >> people are willing to help, especially a company like this, right? it's flowers, compaffee, it's f.
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people may want to be involved in this. >> and she was so in the thick of things, she couldn't see the forest from the trees. so when people come in, they have a different vantage point and it opened up doors she wasn't even looking at. >> the first impressions, too. the fixes you made yourself were easy to do. you said fix this wall, do something to the bathroom. >> it actually goes a step further. what we did was went through her refuge. she was throwing away flowers that she wasn't using because the stems were breaking. so she cut them short and put them in a coffee cup that was chipped. she was going to throw it away. it then became a nice take-home item. >> my first thought was, wow, that looks expensive to me. >> cost her nothing! actually, it saved her money because she didn't have to get the garbage person to carry away the stuff she was throwing away in the past, and people loved it. >> the other thing that struck me, this kind of goes back a step, but she was doing flowers and design and then opened a coffee shop. seemed to come a little out of nowhere, but it's working for her. >> yeah. i mean, focus -- at the end of the day, what does she have? she has her time.
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when you're a small business owner, at the end of the day, you've got your time. for her to lose focus and try to do all these other services, you know, i think what mike and the team did for her is sort of get her back to basics, focus on what you're good at, and the ability to do sort of a restart, which is essentially what she did as she focused on her business. many times, you see businesses don't have that opportunity. they expand, they can't make it happen, they go out of business. this is one of those rare moments where you're able to sort of take a restart, do what you're good at and focus on that business. >> and it's not necessarily expensive. i mean, designing a logo does not have to be expensive. you could go hierarchy, you could also go online. >> 80/20 rule applies. 80% of her revenue she was bringing in was from 20% of the business, so it wasn't expensive to make the changes. actually, by cutting off the things that weren't making money, she had more money available. >> what like? >> she had interior design. she would go into people's homes and reposition.
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that took so much time and she wasn't making money. >> that was such a fun segment to watch. so, thank you for your and your team for everything you got to do. >> thank you. do you find yourself spending hours building and maintaining spread sheets? if association our website of the week can help you simplify things. indinero.com provides services to help you track your company's cash flow. site's downloadable dashboard integrates all of your accounts and updates in realtime as money comes in and out of your business. indinero offers a free trial for under 50 transactions a month and a $29.99 monthly plan for small businesses. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. mike and michael are with us once again. the first one is about gathering outside resources for your business. >> what is the most effective economical way of recruiting advisers nationwide? >> how do you get advisers?
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if you're not going to get a venture capitalist? >> well, there are certainly third-party folks that do this for a living. there's search firms. there's a new york company called partner com that recruits for small and large companies and they're going to take fees. they may have a different fee structure for smaller companies. my own advice is go to your alumni database. i mean, high school, college, business school, other -- because i think if you have that connection with someone, it's a great place to start. many of us went to, you know, schools that have national reach, and you'll be able to sort of go in there, somebody's much more likely to return your call if you have that alumni connection. >> if you get somebody who's willing to help you -- so, you might call someone and they might take your call and might have advice for you -- how do you get them hooked so they keep giving you advice? because you don't want them on for one-off, necessarily. >> there's got to be something in for them. a lot of mentors just like giving back, but to sustain, there's got to be a reward. sometimes it's an equity piece in the business.
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i wouldn't start there. see if there's other things to derive out of it, revenue or maybe they're looking for contacts also and you can expand them to your network. >> all right, george writes -- "what is the best way to showcase my idea to prospective companies that would want to buy my patent or license the company to produce and sell my product and pay me a royalty? what's the best way to stay clear from patent scams?" >> all right, so, there's licensing specialists out there. you can hire someone. that's what they do for a living. but here's the real tip -- go to trade shows. there's two types. there's licensing trade shows. go to those. but the better one is go to the trade shows where the targets, the people that you want to ultimately buy your license, are showing off their wares. you know they're legitimate, you know they're out there actively promoting their because and you can make the key contacts. you'll avoid the scams and make the right contacts you need. >> and to avoid scams, maybe just follow up on references, no? >> yeah, i really like the idea mike says as sort of going direct. these third parties out there that may be contacting you because they've seen you've
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filed a patent, and yes, you can sort of check their references. i think the idea of going to a trade show -- a friend of mine runs a lighting business in cleveland and says he's made a lot of his contacts by going directly to them at the trade centers. they're a captive audience sitting at booths. why pay somebody for the introductions when you can do it yourself? >> great advice. thank you for all your advice today. we appreciate it. if you have a question for our experts, send an e-mail to your busines business@msnbc.com. mike and michael had some really helpful advice about how to improve your business. now, let's get some great ideas from small business owners just like you. >> our idea has been to use american companies as opposed to importing some of our components. our customers really like to have american products, many of them. also, for us, we've been having a problem logistically getting a product when we need it. >> in 2009, when the spa
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business was difficult, we wanted to find a different way to thank our employees for doing such a great job. it was difficult to provide bonuses at that time, so we traded in all of our points from our business credit cards for gift cards for our employees, and they really appreciate them. >> to learn more about today's show, just click on our website. it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments, plus web-exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. and don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feedback. you can also follow us on twitter. it's @msnbcyourbiz. next week, a musical version of "your business." marketing lessons from the grateful dead, small business advice from singer and avocado farmer jason mraz, and follow the widow of new york village
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vanguard as she carries on her husband's business legacy. until then, i'm jj ramberg, and remember, we make "your business" our business. i grew up in the bronx. i just loved it here. i'm sam chernin. owner of sammy's fish box. my uncle owned a restaurant up on city island. and we started going to the restaurant in the summers. 8, 9, 10 years old. i knew immediately that this is what i like, never dreaming that i would own seven restaurants. i want people that work for me to feel that they're sharing in my success. so we purchase as much as we can on the american express open gold card. and we accumulate as many membership reward points as possible. and use those points to reward our employees. they get a trip with their family, and some wonderful memories. the average employee is with me over 20 years.
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